OK, so here's the thing: I TOTALLY watch Love & Hip Hop: NY. Some days are so filled with crazy, you want the scripted "realness" that it provides. Stop shaking your head... There are worse things I could be doing. You are going to have to judge me later because you are about to miss my point. ANYWAY... I was watching last night and besides the usual ridiculousness there was something that was troubling regarding the rapper Saigon and concerns about his son. Let's first talk about the positive steps taken:
- After comparing his 2 year old son with his 2 year old daughter (Yes, you read that right), he noticed that his Son was not hitting the developmental benchmarks she was. He knew of these benchmarks because he checked the Internet and looked them up. This is a good thing we should all do as parents. You can check the benchmarks here.
- He reads up on Autism and its traits. This is also good. Especially in the Black Community where the children are diagnosed as late as 2 1/2 years later than white children. Autism traits can be identified between 12-18 Months so to check for these traits is what should happen.
See... there were good things that happened in that he was initially proactive in trying to problem solve... That's good.
So... After Saigon seeks advice from the guy that doesn't understand why his long term girlfriend won't be with him after he marries his artist (yep, you read that right also...), this happens with Erica Jean, his Son's mother:
Follow me on this folks... there is a huge stigma regarding developmental challenges and delays in our children, BLAMING THE PARENT IS NEVER A GOOD ICE BREAKER... Let's start with that. So let's talk about this in the sphere of being a non-custodial parent. You don't know what the mother is doing and when you use these statements and start the conversations with "I'm not around him as much..." Yeah, stop digging...
"You aren't as attentive as you should be." <--- This type of statement won't get you the buy in you need for what you want, which is a proper assessment for your child.
"I'm Blaming you as the Mother." <--- Yeah, don't say this. Communication has completely broken down at this point.
It is because of statements like these that Erica Jean was not receptive to ANYTHING that was presented to her, even if he is right... Sir, You have just called her a horrible Mother, She is out of Give a Damns regarding any opinions you present.
So with that out of the way, let's talk about effective ways for parents to discuss observations in developmental challenges and approach possible assessments:
- Understand that things like Autism, ADHD and other developmental differences aren't the fault of any parent. The purpose of your conversation is to shift to "problem solving mode."
- Frame all discussions (you will have more than one) around the child's strengths first, concerns second.
- Try to have a fluid conversation. Say things like "I'm noticing .... do you see the same?" or "I have been seeing.... How about you?"
- Take notes: have a notebook with you so that when you notice things (non verbal, noise sensitivity, etc) you can have it documented. This will not only help you with your discussion with the other parent, but down the road if/when you go for assessments.
- Mention the option of getting an assessment if for no other reason than to ruling things out. This may soften the hesitation and intimidation of any forthcoming process.
There is a lot of fear among parents surrounding the thought of developmental challenges in their children. This can be heightened by harsh words. Knowing this, everyone has to behave like a grown up to get things accomplished. Believe me, this is nothing compared what you will encounter with all the institutions you will be dealing with,so you need to act as a team.
Now if you will excuse me, there has to be some housewife or rapper or something on... Lemme check my TV Guide...